ALEATORY #3: Masaki Batoh of Ghost

Since 1984, Ghost has been a staple of Japan's incredible psych-rock scene. Led by Masaki Batoh, and featuring legendary guitarist Michio Kurihara (who played with Boris on 2007's incredible Rainbow, as well as with Damon & Naomi), Ghost's sound is ever-changing, and as such, impossible to pin down. From blistering hard rock to acid folk to sparse, spacey instrumentals to banjo-centric jams, Ghost does it all. Last year, they released their eighth full-length, In Stormy Nights, as well as Overture: Live in Nippon Yusen Soko 2006, a CD/DVD set chronicling a completely improvised show held in a warehouse, with the band separated from each other and the audience locked in for the duration.

Just back from a visit to the states, where he was touring with Helena Espvall of Espers and Damon & Naomi, Batoh gratefully agreed to take part in our third Aleatory questionnaire, in which he shares his love for the classics and displays a humble charm throughout.


1. Favorite word?

"Monarch takes no heed of this miracle
But his hands are only used to persecute us on this ground"
— Agrippa d'Aubigné ["God"]

2. Favorite board game?

I don't do it. But a little Igo or Shogi.

5. Favorite piece of equipment?

Acoustic guitar, banjo.

10. Favorite lyric?

Seneca, Dante, Saisei Muroo, Rohan Koda, etc.

11. Favorite music video?

I don't have TV or DVD system.

15. Favorite exhibit or subject at the museum?

Hokusai at British museum. Buddhist statue at Japan national museum. Goya, Bruegel and Bosch in Madrid.

27. Favorite chord/chord progression?

I don't have any correct musical name on chords. Actually I don't play in standard tuning. Sorry, I'm very bad at musical knowledge.

31. Other than musician, what career would you most enjoy?

My occupation, acupuncture and moxhibation to cure people in sickness.

32. Best thing you learned this week/month?

How I love American people very much. But how I hate their government. "Honk to impeach!"

38. What is your family like?

Very ordinary, peaceful one outside of Tokyo.

46. Where do you keep things hidden? What do you keep hidden there?

Hide nothing. Drainage only.

60. What's the worst show you've ever played? What would you have done different?

In 1984 we were arrested because we played in front of [a] police building.

64. Weirdest promotion you've been a part of?

Oh Buddha, in-store show[s are] always very weird to me......

65. Ever see yourself penning the score/soundtrack to a TV show or film?

Soul is desertful
*, directed by daughter of movie director who [did] Suspiria.

71. How well do you feel your music lends itself to remixing or being covered?

None did it, maybe.

74. Better to burn out or to fade away?

Better to cure everybody, hopefully by music, too.

79. Best concert you've ever been to?

In 1988, Live Temple show at Seiryu temple.

90. Sexiest thing about you?

No idea.

93. What was the longest show you ever played? What was different?

We always play very long in Japan. In foreign countries it used to be very short, at least 2 hours, because we usually play improvisation.

98. Would you say that there's somewhat of a political undertone to your music? If so, what motivates it?

Maybe yes. Because politics is ours, not for politicians who let slip the dogs of the WAR. If we say [we] agree to WAR, there's no insist[ence] for music.


Visit Ghost's website.
Visit Ghost's page at Drag City Records.

Photo by Hiroyuki Ishii.
* DAVECAT: I'm not sure what film Batoh is referring to; I can find no reference to it online. I suspect the title he mentions is the result of translation from something (Italian? English?), to Japanese, then back to English, or (as is frequently the case) that one of her films was given a different name for its foreign release.